The College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York honored President Benigno S. Aquino III with a convocation ceremony on 23 September 2010 during which he was awarded the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal, named after the saint and native New Yorker who founded the Sisters of Charity. The award, the College's highest honor, is given in recognition of outstanding achievements, generosity of spirit and extraordinary self-sacrifice. College President Charles L. Flynn Jr., in his citation speech, lauded President Aquino and said "you reignited the hopes of your nation, filled a reservoir of public trust, and won election to the presidency. Your service to the people of the Philippines gives renewed life to the causes to which your parents dedicated their lives." President Aquino was in New York to attend the 65th United Nations General Assembly.
In his acceptance speech, President Aquino recalled how his mother then spoke "not about the courage that raises a fist in fury, but rather, the kind of blazing and serene hope that will not bow, that will not compromise, that cannot surrender."
President Aquino also acknowledged that he has "been called to work with my people to ensure that democracy benefits all Filipinos, and not just a few. The clamor for reform came from my people, and my being here to accept this award from you is made possible by them. It is only proper that I accept this honor in their name."
In recalling the historical roots of his election to the presidency, President Aquino said "I stand here as living testimony to People Power: the redemptive power of that prayer. It toppled the dictatorship, it frustrated those who would try to revive its ways, it sustained democracy and now, it serves as the bones and sinews of our great mandate for reform."
The President's late mother, former President Corazon Aquino, herself an alumna of the college, was awarded the Elizabeth Seton Medal also a few months after becoming President of the Philippines following the People Power Revolution of 1986. Twenty-four years later, her son carries the torch forward and receives the same honor that his late mother received before him.
Photo by Gil Nartea (Malacañang Photo Bureau).